Civil society groups back special courts for PDAF cases

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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

CAUSE-ORIENTED groups have asked the Supreme Court (SC) to approve the Office of the Ombudsman's proposal for the creation of special divisions at the Sandiganbayan to try and decide on cases related to the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam.

In a petition, the Alternative Law Groups and the Transparency and Accountability Network said the proposal will help ensure early resolution of cases, especially if there would be marathon hearings.

"Without a special division dedicated to the PDAF cases, we are afraid that the justice system, and the country will miss the historic opportunity to effectively and efficiently exercise and implement the accountability measures that are in place under our Constitution and laws," the groups said.

They also attached a copy of an online petition that has already gathered some 3,000 signatures in favor of the special divisions.

The SC has no decision yet on the Ombudsman's request.

Three divisions of the Sandiganbayan are handling the plunder and graft cases against Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jose "Jinggoy" Estrada and Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr., alleged scam mastermind Janet Napoles, other government employees and private individuals.

These senators allegedly pocketed millions of pesos from their PDAF allocation after choosing Napoles' fake non-government organizations (NGOs) as implementers of ghost projects.

Estrada and Revilla refused to enter a plea on the charges against them since they have pending petitions with the SC questioning their indictment while Enrile has remained free because the Sandiganbayan third division is still contemplating whether or not to issue an arrest warrant against him and his co-accused. (Sunnex)

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